Ear infections in dogs are very common. The dog ears have three things that provide excellent conditions for bacteria and yeast to strive: moisture, heat, and oil.
Canine ear infections usually cause the inside of your dog’s ear to become red, hot, swollen, and painful.
An infected ear will also give out a strong foul smell. The smell from bacterial infections is strong and sour, whereas yeast infections smell like a wet tennis shoe.
Ear infections that cause a lot of pain and last for over a few days should be treated by a veterinarian, but mild cases of ear infections can be treated with home remedies.
Remember, if an ear infection causes a lot of pain to your dog, and it lasts for over a couple of days, you should take your dog to the vet.
Cleaning Out the Ears
The first step to treating an ear infection in dogs is to remove all the debris in the ears. Use a bit of gauze to scoop away as much gunk as you can.
Do not use a cotton swab as it can push the gunk further down into your dog’s ears, worsening the infection.
Then, flush the ears twice a day with a dog ear wash (see below).
Use a cotton ball to squeeze the wash into the ear opening and use your other hand to massage the base of your dog’s ear to distribute the ear wash.
Dog Ear Wash
Natural ear wash like the following can be used as a home remedy to wash out a dog’s infected ears:
Apple Cider Vinegar
Mix equal parts of apple cider vinegar with distilled water and use the mixture to flush the ears twice a day when your dog has an ear infection. The vinegar changes the pH level in the ear, making it impossible for bacteria or yeast to survive.
If there are open sores in the ears, the vinegar might sting somewhat, so beware. Use this ear wash once or twice a month to flush the ears to prevent ear infections.
Witch hazel is a natural solution derived from the bark and leaves of the shrub Hamamelis virginiana. It has strong antiseptic and astringent properties and is great for washing and cleaning out dirty dog ears.
Get a natural ear wash that uses witch hazel as a base, and preferably one that contains healing herbs (e.g. chamomile, calendula) added to it to prevent and help clear up dog ear infections.
After washing and flushing out the ears with ear wash, be sure to dry the ears thoroughly with gauze or a soft washcloth. Then apply an herbal ear cleaner, such as one made of mullein and garlic oils. The herb mullein has antiviral properties, whereas garlic has antibiotic properties. These two herbal oils make an excellent home remedy for treating dog ear infections.
Alternatively, you can also try this herbal ear infection remedy: Ear Care Gold Dog Ear Infections.
This natural product contains herbal ingredients such as mullein, calendula, aloe vera, and more. It can be used at the very first signs of an ear infection. In the case of chronic ear problems, it can be applied once or twice weekly as a preventative.
When is Veterinary Attention Needed?
Most minor dog ear infections will clear up within one week using home remedies. If your dog’s ears still smell awful after one week of home treatment, chances are he has a serious case of ear infection and needs veterinary attention.
Preventing Dog Ear Infections
As always, prevention is better than cure. You can do a lot to help prevent ear infections in your dog. For example:
- Check and clean your dog’s ears regularly. The moment that you notice dirt, redness or discharge, clean the ears immediately. The purpose is of course to make the ears as uninhabitable for bacteria and yeast as possible.
- Keep your dog’s ears dry all the time. That means dry your dog’s ears after swimming or other water sports, and avoid getting water inside the dog’s ears while shampooing.
- If your dog has recurrent ear infections, it most likely means that the infections are caused by an underlying problem. Take your dog to the vet for a proper diagnosis.